Polaroid series race 3 – Clydebank 10k (AKA Tongs ya bass!)

I was determined to learn the lessons of the previous week, so I went to the track session on the Saturday, 3 sets of 4 x 300m with 100 steady recovery. Ooft, first set hurt but got into my rhythm. 8 miler on Sunday morning interspersed with watching the triathlon at Strathclyde Park. These guys are REAL athletes, well done to Ross and Katelyn from MAC who did themselves proud. Tuesday myself and Ewen worked together as the MAC squad did 3 x 2k loops with 2 mins recovery. Came to Thursday and I didn’t feel any better or any worse than the previous week, but I knew I had worked harder, had eaten better and was in a better frame of mind. I knew that if the conditions were kind then I was going to trouble my best, and hopefully even get under 39.30.

Getting there was chaotic. Rush hour traffic. Football at Ibrox. And I was bursting. The last 25 minutes before I got there was more painful than watching St Mirren this season. Got there, found the toilets, took a picture of a chip shop boat (I know)  and was ready to prepare.


I decided to take a look at the first k as I tend to do, a downhill sprint, tight corner and into an industrial estate. As I got into the industrial estate the heavens opened, the wind built up and I got soaked. Confidence sort of disappeared there and then. Got back over to the Playdrome soaking wet. Had a chat to Tricky Thow who was running despite having ran the land o Burns 10k sub 45 the night before. Fair play, I couldn’t do back to backs like that. Met up with the rest of the MAC lads, only 4 of us tonight, and after a wee jog and stride it was time to go to the start.


Saw Ian Goudie hanging about outside the toilets again. Shook hands with Robert Gilroy who looked right up for it. The conditions had changed in the last 30 minutes. The rain had stopped and the wind was just a breeze. Conditions pretty good for a PB attempt. I felt really nervous, almost sick nervous. But I was focussed. The last thing that went through my mind was something my old pal and former Hamilton club mate Brian Campbell, who was now running with Cambuslang, had messaged me, “if you’re doing Clydebank tonight remember: it’s the fastest of the series, but everyone knows that and many start too fast…”.  Wise words indeed. The starting buzzer went and as Brian said it was rapid down that first hill and round the tight bend. A lot of bumping about. As we got into the industrial estate there was a bit of a headwind, but not too bad, but something to remember for later. The first 2k flew in. The first in 3.45, the second in 3.50, I knew it was unsustainable but I felt pretty good. Made a few dodgy decisions on whether to run on road or pavement at certain bits and was lucky not to get myself in bother but for ks 3 and 4 along the canal I was running a steady 3.55 – 3.56 pace. My wee accountant head knew that I had to average 3.54 to get near 39 minutes, so I was more than happy with my pace, 39.30 was a reality. Things were getting into deja vu territory around this point. You start to see a lot of the same people around you in a series like this. Hamilton’s Richard Murciano was out for his Tom Scott revenge and went past me at pace around this time, and I was once again hanging onto the shirt tails of Lothian’s Mhairi Inglis who was running very strongly. There was a lot of support on the course for Dumbarton’s Nicola Pearson but the noise generated by the crowd for her was helping the rest of us.

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The first loop was completed shortly after this then back into the industrial estate. At 5k I was at exactly 19.30. A month or so ago this was my 5k PB yet I felt comfortable. I knew that i could run the second 5k in 20 minutes to get my 39.30 and felt that I was capable of doing it. The wind again in the industrial estate was a bit hairy but I wasn’t far off a 4 minute k and started to kick on the best I could. Onto the canal path again and a 3.59 and a 3.58 so things looking really good for a PB. As I got to 8k I caught a group containing Dumbarton’s Melissa Wylie amongst others. She is a very strong runner who had beaten me convincingly at Dumbarton so I knew things were going well. A glance behind me showed that Mhairi from Lothian was also on my tail, so it was time to try and up the ante as we looped the industrial estate into a headwind for the last time. A 4.01 second last k into the wind was fine. Unless I buckled I was going to get that PB. I ran hard, got round the tight bend we had went round when we started and there is probably a half k fast to go, half uphill then a downhill sprint to the finish. I was running very solidly here and had pulled away from the group I was with. As I got to the top of the hill I saw the clock approaching 39 minutes. Really? Oooft I sprinted hard, with everything I had left.


I crossed the line, stopped my watch and looked at it. 39.00.02. I had smashed my best but I was gutted. How close to breaking 39? Stuweb the timers have a van at the finish where you can confirm your time. I typed in my number, 343, I pressed the enter button. It took an eternity to print out…. but it did…..


Cue dancing about like an eejit again. 38.59 pulled out of nowhere. The last k done in 3.29, what’s that all about? 2 mins 15 off my best since the series started and 7 minutes 31 off my best since I joined Motherwell last May. My second 5k tonight in 19.29. The first time in years I have run the second half stronger, albeit by 1 second. Could not believe it. I am my own worst critic but was pleased with myself. I believed in myself. I took on runners that I know have a better pedigree and I beat another barrier. Of the others? Richard gubbed me and set a remarkable PB. Ian got a PB by 55 seconds and had the best sprinting face I have ever seen….


Ewen ran a minute faster than last week to be just over 40 minutes which is inspirational after a year out injured. Great runs from Eddie and Graeme from the club as well.


Robert Gilroy got an excellent 3rd in a fantastic race. Tricky Thow beat 45 mins for the second night in a row. A lot of happy people tonight. What a great series it is proving to be and i would recommend it to anyone. 1 to go, a notoriously slow one, like the Tour de France cyclists going into Paris. Looking forward to completing it, another challenge almost done. Bring on the Vale. I enjoyed my whisky after this one.

Thanks to Steven Hill for the fantastic action shots. Thanks to Ewen and me for the other pics.

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